How PCOS Affects Your Relationships

how pcos affects relationships
Caiaimage/Agnieszka Olek

PCOS is a very frustrating condition in women that can affect a woman's fertility, health, and emotional well-being.  It is not surprising that having PCOS can affect your relationships with your partner, family and friends.

Here are some factors that can affect your relationships if you have PCOS and what you can do about it. 

Self Esteem

Besides causing reproductive changes like irregular periods and difficulty conceiving, PCOS can cause a number of distressing dermatological symptoms.

Acne, boils, irregular hair growth, hair loss, skin tags and weight gain are all related to PCOS. Many women report having low self esteem as a result of those symptoms and the frustration they feel over them. 

Even worse, most people have never heard of PCOS and don’t understand why you are having trouble with your weight or excess hair on your face. This leaves women feeling uncomfortable or less feminine. To top it off, women with PCOS experience mood disorders such as anxiety and depression.

Remember that your family and friends love you for who you are, and not because your face is clear or hair perfect. After all, you don’t love your best friend for that reason, right? Give yourself that respect and trust that your loved ones love you that much as well. If this becomes a chronic problem, seeing a counselor to help you work through this self-doubt can be helpful.

Weight

Because of the difficulties that many women with PCOS have in losing weight, they may feel resentful of friends who can eat whatever they want without gaining weight.

Many women report feeling like they are constantly comparing themselves to their skinnier friends or are embarrassed about their excess weight. And given the scrutiny surrounding the obesity crisis in the U.S. right now, they may feel blamed for their extra weight instead of recognizing the medical condition that is making it so hard for them to lose weight.

If your weight is really an issue or you struggle with binge eating, consult with a registered dietitian who has experience in treating women with PCOS for guidance on lifestyle changes. Even without weight loss, women with PCOS can improve their labs and optimize their health. 

Infertility

Infertility, or difficulty getting pregnant, can dramatically affect a couple’s relationship. Opening your private sexual life to strangers and medical professionals can really hamper your intimacy. Even being told when to have sex and when to abstain eliminates the spontaneity and fun that comes with being a couple. Many women also report feeling like their infertility is her fault; that she is the reason for failed cycles and lost money and time. It’s easy to see why couples going through infertility treatment fight about money and intimacy and many other things.

The good news is that infertility doesn’t have to destroy your bond. There are many things that you can do to restore (maintain) the intimacy and spontaneity of your sexual relationship.

Try not telling your husband when you are ovulating or when you have been instructed to be intimate. You can even think of fun ways to initiate sex - your husband will likely appreciate the effort. This helps take some of the pressure off and can make trying to have a baby fun, despite being directed by medical professionals.

If you feel that having PCOS is severely affecting your relationships with others, it may be time to check in with an individual psychotherapist or couples' counselor (in the case of marital troubles) for some help figuring it out. In addition, The PCOS Workbook: Your Guide to Complete Physical and Emotional Health is a self-help book proven to reduce anxiety, depression, and problematic eating and offers coping advice for infertility. 

Updated by About.com PCOS expert Angela Grassi, MS, RDN, LDN

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